This week’s posts highlight reflections from the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI), a global network of organizations and experts working together to support the strengthening of monitoring, evaluation, and the use of evidence in developing countries. GEI uses an integrated systems-based approach and works closely with governments, evaluation professionals, and other stakeholders on efforts that are country-owned and aligned with local needs and perspectives.
Hi, we are Myra Imran Rafiq (Intern Policy Advisory), Muhammad Adnan (Program Manager Policy Advisory) and Eman Haider (Program Manager Policy Advisory). We are part of EvalPCA, hosted at the Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP), an implementing partner of the Global Evaluation Initiative (GEI). Our mission is to improve decision-making through the use of evidence and to build monitoring and evaluation (M&E) capacities in Pakistan and the Central Asian region.
Pakistan is similar to many other developing countries in terms of M&E – it is emerging from an M&E environment dictated by donor funding requirements, often based on methods and models explicitly built for Western contexts and culture, which don’t align with the local context. However, as in other countries, Pakistan has a growing understanding that better policies come from data and evidence. We at CERP work closely with M&E stakeholders to help adapt M&E approaches to the local cultural and socioeconomic context, supporting the development of empirically sound policies based on evidence. This blog will discuss a few general recommendations for improving M&E systems within the Pakistani context.
M&E systems should be based on effective IT integration. Because of a lack of internal capacity and an unwillingness to adopt the latest IT practices, the M&E systems that are implemented aren’t effective enough. This results in a knowledge and skills gap, which further becomes a problem when there is no accountability. In our work with agencies, we have found instances where data – and the systems that support the gathering and using of this data – have not been updated for many years. This is a barrier to successfully implementing and managing an M&E system. The existing system employed by Planning Commission for monitoring and evaluation, the PMES (Project Monitoring and Evaluation System), needs to be updated, and more indicator data needs to be developed and included.
Moreover, the relevant stakeholders, members of the academia, and other think tanks should be involved, and their input should be considered to reach a consensus. In instances of lagging internal capacity and outdated technological equipment, these stakeholders can appeal to the government for funding to ensure that only the best M&E practices are enforced.
M&E should be used for decision-making. Monitoring reports are not given due importance; while systematic performance routines, desk reviews, and evaluations are conducted, they have minimal impact. Evaluation findings can be useful when integrated into the performance planning phase. This data can provide an insight into areas such as improving future development prospects, the level of national-level funding, its appropriateness, and lastly, the relevance and the efficiency of the implementing ministry.
Outdated M&E systems should be updated. The PC-1 to PC-5 proformas are typically used for government initiatives to determine their viability and their ultimate success. They were last updated in 2005. The PC-1 form is used for planning and development of projects, whereas PC-2 is useful in assessing the feasibility of projects. PC-3 is needed for progress reporting on the majority of government projects. The PC-4 is a form issued during and after project completion; the last one is the PC-5, which is an evaluation form for the projects undertaken. Our recommendation is to update these forms in order to ensure that they are in line with the most recent M&E standards globally and that they can be successfully implemented in Pakistan.
Hot Tips for Evaluation Professionals Working in Developing Countries:
- Prioritize the country context. Prioritize a country’s M&E ecosystem when designing and implementing an M&E framework. Work to adapt the model rather than trying to force it to fit. A diagnostic process, such as the one outlined in GEI’s Monitoring and Evaluations Systems Analysis Tool (MESA), can guide you in understanding the context.
- Help decision-makers understand the value of data. As monitoring, evaluation, and learning professionals, we want to help decision-makers understand the importance of updating IT systems and related processes, as it contributes to better data, which, in turn, supports decision-making and organizational learning.
- Help decision-makers utilize M&E findings. For effective decision-making, some weight should be given to desk reviews, analysis, surveys, and monitoring reports. They can be a viable option in understanding a development project and its features, such as funding, suitability, and whether the ministry/agency in charge can execute the project well.
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